Varun Chakravarthy’s rise in Indian cricket is a story worth celebrating. He has grown to be an intelligent bowler and now an international cricketer. Nobody had heard of Varun Chakravarthy till the start of the Tamil Nadu Premier League. He was doing architecture and he was working, and then he decided to take up cricket again. He was playing cricket and then he left. He was playing lower division in the Tamil Nadu league.
When the Tamil Nadu Premier League came around, Dinesh Karthik’s team picked him. And Dinesh Karthik backed him to the core — from then, to now with the Kolkata Knight Riders. And in the last two years, he has been performing very, very consistently. Major credit of his success should go to DK for he has worked with him over the years, and especially at his worst.
One thing that I really liked about Varun is the fact that he is very accurate. That definitely helps because you can then set a field accordingly and bowl. If you’re bowling here and there, then you can't set a field. So accuracy is one of his key things.
While he has a lot of variations, the fact that he knows exactly what to bowl talks about his talent. In one of the IPL games against CSK, he bowled a lovely googly to Dhoni and MS couldn't pick it up. It takes a lot of courage to bowl googlies at people who can hit big sixes because googly is the ball that comes in and makes it easier for the batsmen to play the big shots. So, he's got a lot of courage. He's got a big heart.
He bowls flat through the air. But at the same time, he varies his pace. So it is very difficult for the batsman to step out and hit him. That's what makes him a very difficult boulder to hit big sixes. His trajectory, change of pace — that’s what makes it very difficult for the batsman to pick him. Even if he gets hit, he’s not overawed by the occasion. All this combined together makes him a good package.
For India, I don’t see him as someone who has to bring a wholesome change to his approach and skill. He has got to maintain the same role that he was doing for KKR. He’s got to take wickets in the middle overs. Taking wickets in the middle overs is so important which means the batting side is not dominating; they're not having a big partnership. So taking wickets is very very important. He's got to go in with the same attitude.
The pitches might be on the slower side in the World Cup — helping the spinners. Conditions are going to help spinners, and the Indian team management should definitely play Varun because he's capable of taking wickets in the middle overs. If Jadeja can keep it tight and Varun can attack from the other end, it will be a good combination.
Especially when he's bowled two-over spells. It makes it even more difficult. By the time the batsman is trying to analyse, he's off the attack. So it's important for a good captain to use him in the right possible manner.
Because of his pace, once you start bowling quicker through the air, then you have to be slightly shorter. Your length depends on the pace that you bowl. When you’re slower through the air, you can bowl a full or good length. But when you're bowling faster, you have to ball just a little short so the ball doesn’t skid off the surface and make it easier for the batsman to drive. So you will find a difference in length when there's a difference in pace. Varun bowls stump-to-stump, you know, all the time. So there is a good chance to get leg-befores and bowled. So that is another strong factor for him.
His grip on the ball is so different and release is different. Certain bowlers have a conventional grip — for the off-spin, leg-spin, etc — so you can make out what they're going to do. But Varun Chakravarthy, there's a lot of gap between the fingers and the palm and the ball, so it means he's holding it in his fingertips. When he's holding it in his fingertips, he can tweak it whichever way he wants at the last moment.
If you hold it deep in the palm, then the release you can’t change. It’s very easy to spot it on the television because of slow motions. But in regular action, it's very, very difficult to pick — unless you're seeing the ball in the air. He's got a lot of deception. And because his grip on the ball is different from the others, it makes it even more difficult.